MILAN – Italian police have clashed with hundreds of anti-fascist demonstrators in Bologna who were trying to disrupt a planned campaign appearance by the head of the neo-fascist Forza Nuova. The news agency ANSA said six demonstrators and one police officer were injured.
Police used tear gas, water cannons and batons on demonstrators who tried to breach cordons to reach a square where the far-right campaign appearance was scheduled Friday in the traditionally left-wing city of Bologna. Forza Nuova leader Roberto Fiore eventually addressed a small crowd behind a banner "Italy for Italians" that ANSA put at several dozen.
The protests, organized by trade unions and social activists, come amid fears of a revival of neo-fascist sentiment before Italy's national election on March 4.
Pier Luigi Bersani, a former government minister who is running for a small left-wing party, joined the demonstration, along with other left-leaning politicians.
"We have already seen many times how to react to fascist regurgitations and terrorist phenomenon. We have always done this by going into the streets, and going there together. This is still the way," Bersani said.
A series of anti-fascist marches were organized around the country last weekend, taking particular aim at racist tones following the shooting of six African migrants by a far-right sympathizer in the city of Macerata. One of the marches, in the small northern city of Piacenza, turned violent with demonstrators throwing cobblestones at law enforcement and a group of protesters attacking one officer. ANSA says three people were arrested in that attack.